Vankirk Funeral Home was founded in 1955 by Alvia S. Vankirk and his wife Helen Cottongim Vankirk.
They devoted over 40 years to serving families in the Corbin area, both in ambulance work and
|Alvia & Helen Vankirk|
Alvia Stephen Vankirk was born on January 18, 1922 in Middlesboro, Kentucky to Dr.
Thomas D. Vankirk, a veterinarian, and Hazel McCarty Vankirk. He attended the
University of Kentucky and was a graduate of the Kentucky School of Embalming.
Even after he devoted countless hours to the funeral home, ambulance runs and serving
as Whitley County Deputy Coroner for many years, Alvia never turned his back on his
civic activities. An active member of the Corbin Kiwanis Club, he was a past
president of the Corbin Club and Lieutenant Governor of District 5. He had 40
plus years of perfect attendance at Kiwanis. A Mason, Shriner and a member of
Oleika Temple, he was responsible for many children being admitted to the Shriners
Hospital for treatment. He had also served as a member of the Board of Directors
of the Cumberland Valley National Bank & Trust Co.
Alvia was a veteran of WWII and served in the U.S. Army in the European Theatre.
He was recipient of five battle stars.
|Vankirk Funeral Home|
A life-long Presbyterian, Alvia served as an Elder of the Corbin Presbyterian Church
which just happened to sit right next door to the funeral home. He became an active
member of the Venice Presbyterian Church in Florida after his retirement.
Helen Cottongim Vankirk was born February 5, 1929 in Barbourville, Kentucky to John
Cottongim and Cleo Muncy Cottongim. A graduate of Corbin High School, she continued
her education at Ward-Belmont Junior College in Nashville and graduated from
Northwestern University in 1951 earning her Masters Degree in music for both the organ
and the piano. Her love for music led her to further her studies at the Brevard School
of Music in Brevard, North Carolina. Over the years, Helen taught piano and was an
elementary school teacher in addition to being a funeral director.
When the Vankirks retired, they spent part of their time in
the Corbin area, but they also enjoyed their time spent at their home in Venice, Florida.
In 2001, Eric and Dawn Grisell bought the funeral home and
it became the Vankirk-Grisell Funeral Home. Eric, Dawn and their three children are from
West Virginia. Eric is the sixth generation in his family to become a funeral director.
Alvia and Helen Vankirk met the Grisell family during the time they were purchasing
the funeral home and were very pleased to see the legacy that they had built was to
be left in such caring and capable hands.
Alvia and Helen were able to celebrate their 50-year journey through life together
on their golden wedding anniversary in December, 2001. Sadly, Alvia passed away a
few days later on January 2, 2002, with Helen following closely behind him on March 1,
2002. They are missed and will not soon be forgotten.